We can’t be everywhere at once. In fact, most of us can only be at our desks. But staying put means we miss out on the ability to connect in person with leads and customers. The next best thing to accruing airlines miles (and travel expenses) traveling around the globe is to host live streaming webinars or events.
Webinars and virtual events are a great way to generate leads and keep customers current on your product. Consider a webinar specifically for potential leads where an expert on your product introduces the product and shares his top tips. For established customers, try a virtual event celebrating the launch of new functionality with an exclusive live demo of the new functionality.
To host a webinar or virtual event, you’ll need to live stream video. By live streaming video, your audience can be halfway around the world and feel as if they are in the room with you. Live streaming is an easy and inexpensive way to expand your viewership.
Unlike regular video shooting, streaming video has the added difficulty of being live, which means if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. Here are a few pointers to troubleshoot your event before everything goes live.
If you’re looking for a professional quality shoot, you might be better off hiring a team to assist you. If you are going for a DIY approach, a digital point-and-shoot camera will work great. There are several things to look out for when selecting a camera:
- Live camera mode option: Make sure the camera is capable of live camera recording. Generally, the camera will remain in its charging dock and connect to your computer.
- Consider the audio options. The camera should have a port for connecting an external microphone, in addition to an on-board mic that connects to the computer for audio.
- Lighting options: You won’t always have ideal lighting situations, so look for a camera with continuous light. If you can’t find a camera with this, consider purchasing a light that connects to the hot shoe on the top of your camera.
The sights don’t mean much without the sounds. If your video quality is low and your audio is acceptable, your audience has a greater likelihood of sticking around during your stream. Although they won’t be able to see what is happening, they can still hear the webinar or event.
To keep your audio quality high, you need to prepare for possible obstacles and consider the options you might have.
Here are four questions to answer ahead of time:
- How many people will be on camera?
- Do you want ambient sound?
- Do you have access to the soundboard?
- Will you be switching between hosts or instructors?
Knowing these four audio options will help you determine what microphones will work best.
Here are the easiest microphone that will give you the audio quality to keep your audience in their seats:
- Lavalier microphone: This small microphone clips on a lapel for individual voice sound. If you are shooting interviews, you will need one for each person on camera. A lav mic picks up the voice, while leaving out much of the surrounding sounds.
- Shotgun microphone: This mic picks up sound in front of the mic and rejects the sound behind it, allowing the operator to aim at the audio source. A shotgun mic is a good substitute for a lav mic if your video shoot is in a quiet location, because it will allow you to pick up the audio from multiple people.
- Event soundboard: If you have the option to record sound from a professional mixing board, do it. It will reduce your workload, and provide high-quality sound from professional audio equipment.
The Live Streaming Service Options
There are many sites to host your stream, but there are two that rise above the rest.
- Ustream has a free option (though your video will have advertising from others attached) and a paid option without the ads. It is easy to use and can be embedded into Facebook tabs, blogs and websites.
- Livestream is a more robust platform for live streaming video. It has a built-in community of different interest groups and has options to pay for advertising free video.
Connecting to the Internet
The final and most important step of streaming video is the Internet connection. The quality of your connection defines the quality of your live stream. With that being said, here are a couple do's and don’ts to managing your Internet connection:
- Use a hardline Ethernet cable. WiFi technology is not reliable enough to handle your streaming video. The last thing you want is for your video to be jumpy or stop all together.
- Test your connection before shooting by using online Internet speed connection tests.
- While streaming, have someone watch and listen to your video in a different room to make sure your video is effectively working.
Where to Promote
Without promoting your streaming event, no one will know to watch it. Begin promoting your event at least two weeks in advance on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus, blogs and websites.
Using Livestream or Ustream, you have the option to copy the embed code and insert the streaming video into any site where you have access to the source code. The best place to host your streaming video is on your website and send your social media communities to your website using a tracking link. This way you can measure the number of viewers and how they learned about your event.
On the day of the event, drive traffic to where you host your streaming video and watch as your views begin to grow.